F5 Networks focuses on alliances with mobile-device management vendors

F5 Networks says it has entered into technology-alliance agreements with several mobile-device management (MDM) vendors in order to optimize use of F5 Technologies remote-access software with MDM software used to manage smartphones and tablets.

The F5 partnership announcements made today include AirWatch, MobileIron, SilverbackMDM and Zenprise, and are intended to optimize use of the F5 SSL VPN software as well as F5's BIG-IP Access Policy Manager, BIG-IP Edge Gateway and BIG-IP Edge Client for use with these MDM vendors' software for managing smartphones and tablets.

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Mike Shrock, global business development manager at F5, says the partnerships allow F5 and each MDM vendor to share data that will optimize management of the SSL VPN and security controls. "This allows us to see information in the MDM directory," Shrock said. "The MDMs control the policies. But we also have access to a lot of data they don't have on the network switch, and how fast the network is responding."

The technology integration, which includes support for a set of APIs from F5, is expected to enhance mobile-access policy enforcement from LAN networks and wireless connections, and enable the IT department to extend full route-control capabilities by applying routing restrictions for users who access applications behind the corporate firewall.

F5's mobile software provides SSL VPN support for many of the mobile operating system software and hardware vendors, including Apple, Google and Microsoft.

AirWatch, MobileIron, SilverbackMDM and Zenprise each issued statements backing the F5 technology integration announcement. "The AirWatch MDM solution leverages F5 BIG-IP products for more than 1,000 SaaS-based customers, which made extending our partnership to support F5's mobility access a logical progression," said John Marshall, CEO of AirWatch.

In its own statement, SilverbackMDM said it had already completed the F5 integration work.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security.

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.

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